Justin Haggerty of Milford is well known as an active advocate for Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens, a foundation dedicated to raising funds and consciousness in support of programs that enrich the lives of Delawareans with intellectual disABILITIES. Maybe best known for his involvement with the Blue God Football game, Justin has been a partner for several Milford High School Football Players as they participate as the top players in Delaware.
This past week Justin had the opportunity to enjoy another passion of his at the Delaware State Fair as he showed two sheep in competition on Wednesday afternoon. Showing animals for the last four years, Justin has followed in the footsteps of his sister Jenna who has shown animals for over 15 years.
“Our platform is inclusion, just him walking into the ring, we are winning.,” said Justin’s father Billy Haggerty. “How many times is a kid like Justin allowed to compete on a level playing field, and be successful.”
During the competition, Justin’s true nature shined through as he shook the hands of all of his competitors and wished them luck. After placing fifth with his first lamb and eighth with his second lamb, he congratulated the other competitors and smiled from the joy of the experience. “He is as happy when he is in last place as if he won the competition,” said Haggerty.
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The two sheep that Justin showed have been raised by the Haggerty family since April. He has been very involved and passionate about the hard work of caring for the animals which includes feeding, shearing, bathing and cleaning every day. “Taking care of the sheep teaches him responsibility. Justin is a hard worker and puts everything into everything that he does,” said Haggerty. “We are so proud of him, he gets to encourage other children and families to reach out and do things they want to do.”
The parenting philosophy that the Haggertys have adopted is simple; let Justin guide the way on what he wants to do. Active in Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens, Special Olympics Delaware and the Delaware State Fair, Justin keeps them very busy year round.
“We hope that people learn from Justin to treat all people with respect and to include children with disabilities like they are just like anyone else,” said Haggerty. “We don’t want him to be treated as though he has a handicap, we just want him to do whatever he wants to do.”
After the Delaware State Fair, Justin plans to continue his work on the family farm taking care of animals and will prepare for the school year. This year he will be a sophomore at Milford High School.
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